Freitag, November 30, 2007

Progress report 11/30/07 Friday; Earthquake!

Weather update from Karel Vissel:

sat mrng nw 3 to 4bft 4bft aft sw 3bft seas 2.20 swell 1.20 frm sw

Earthquake News Report:
Magnitude 5.9, Friday, November 30 2007 at 4:53 am (NZDT), 50 km north-west of Te Anau.

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
My first earthquake at 4.55am!
About force's a quiet morning to cross Te Waewae Bay

46.15 167.18 60 km beach beh. Sandhill Point funny landing :) not much swell but some easy surf out I hope...

Donnerstag, November 29, 2007

Progress Report 11/29/07 Thursday - updated by Freya 29.11.07

I did another pool teaching session today! Jaqui and Tim Anderson with their son Pete, and Belinda and Stan Mulvany were joining me into the local Riverton Pool. Good I was able to do something useful on that windy, rainy day off!

It looks like there will be decent weather the next three days!! What means decent at this country in this time of the year...means headwinds around 15kn (force 3-4) "only" and swell under 3m with lighter seas on really looks like I'll make it into Fjordland in these conditions.
But after those three "decent" weather days there will be another three days (minimum...) of roughest headwinds again...but I will be around the corner by then! (hopefully...)
My body feels good and ready to go.

Mittwoch, November 28, 2007

Progress Report 11/28/07 Wednesday - updated again by Freya 28.11.07

I woke up pretty "stoned" this morning, my body told me I worked out hard yesterday!
Forecast for today wasn't too bad, but Thursday wil be a rest day again anyway. An I won't have made it across Te Waewae Bay today anyway... :-(( I would have needed to land in Colac Bay for that yesterday, and even then I wonder what my body would have told actually told to sleep until 7.30am, and then slowly make my decision...the decision after listening to the forecast was to keep on sleeping and to make the short jump to Colac Bay tonight with ebbing tide, to be in good staring position then for the quiet day on Friday to cross to Port Craig. Actually, the orignal plan was to get around Puysegur Point on Friday...but plans sometimes change...

I was just aslep again after breakfast, the rain was dopping nicely on my tent, as someone was calling my name outside! It were Jacqui and Tim Anderson with their son, scanning the beaches where I might have ended up last night...
They invited me to their house for a shower, internet and lunch, before I keep on going to Colac Bay tonight. How nice! Thanks to Jacqui and Tim!


The short trip this afternoon to Colac Bay was kind of relaxing compared to the previous paddling day, but my shoulder and forearm muscles were still cramped and hurt. So I took it slow and easy in the afternoon sun, knowing there would be Tim already waiting for me to pick me up again to host me another day and nights! They were so nice to offer to me instead of staying in Colac Bay for a whole day off on windy Thursday to pick me up again and I could spend that time with them! Very, very much appreciated! Thanks!
Dinner proved to be a delicious salmon filet with fresh veggies, and some freshly baked brownies for desert. Not too bad for a lonely, exhausted traveller!

Next, new plan is to take the low wind forecast (force 3 west...) Friday to get across Te Waewae Bay to Port Craig (50 km), probably having another day off then on Saturday before I might get to the Green Islets, maybe another day off before I could get around Puysegur...but as experienced, plans do change sometimes...

Dienstag, November 27, 2007

Progress Report 11/27/07 Tuesday - updated by Freya

Weather update from Karel Vissel:

Oreti beach tues mrng w 4bft noon w 4bft aft w 4bft seas 2.50 mtr frm sw

Colac bay tues mrng w 4bft noon sw 4bft aft w 4bft seas 3.50mtr frm sw Colac bay

wed mrng w 3bft noon w 3bft aft sw 3bft seas 3mtr frmsw

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:

46.22 168.02 Riverton very tough day but satisfying (now...) I had enough! :-)

Update by Freya 28.11.07:
Meri and Ian Leask picked my at 5.30am, and we carried the kayak over from Bruce and Gloria's house just across the road. Thanks for storing it in the backyard and garage!

Packing went fast, and I was on the water at 6am, waving Meri, Iand and Bruce good bye. It felt good to wave some good people good bye! They were all very helpfull, thanks again!

The morning tide flushed me easily out of the Bluff harbour entrance, and I started turning west soon. The sheltered harbour became soon windy as forecasted around the rocks, and wind and swell against created lovely waters es expected...but there was still that more quiet gap between the main stream (race) and the rocks, not really an eddy, as the stream was still strongly with me. But I didn't at least had to paddle in the main tidal race area. But it felt like paddling against a wall of wind...there might have been force 4 further down at Oreti beach, but around that rocky shoreline it was funneling somehow harder. But the tide was stronger than the wind, and amazingly I made still good progress of about 6km/hr. Not too bad!

Means I arrived at my tida lunch stop Bombay Rock in time at 10.30 am. Going more into the Mokomoko Inlet showed that in that shallow area the water was breaking in wide big surflines, nothing inviting to cut across, but I was sneaking close to the rocks again and caught only one big surfwave sideways I had to brace into. The water bacame soon quiet, and I landed on the first inviting beach at low tide whith the one and only farmhouse. I guessed I might walk up and knock at the door if there would be a place for a hot cuppa to warm up a bit.

Two dogs were barking loud as I approached, I waited for about 10 min with the dogs making that noise if someone would show up somewhere, but either the people didn't care about the dogs barking or they weren't at home, what I guessed, as I didn't see any sign of life anywhere.

I decided this won't be a good place to wait for the tide turning, as the end of the sandy beach was still under the high tide line with big boulders, and I paddled a short distance to teh next remote one, which looked a bit longer sandy.

Walking up and down didn't really warm me up, I had a bit of a rest in a sheltered hey stack of the farm, but I guessed at 1 pm better get going even with the tide still against you rather than freezing here and getting bored...

Passing the surfline again close to the rocks, and then I headed directly to Howells Point, still hoping I could make it to Colac Bay tonight with the helpp of the turning tide later.

The first two hours weren't a good decision to start paddling already, as the tide across the bay was not extremely stopping me, but enough to make only about 2-2,5 km/hr...nothing really worth the effort. But I realized later it was good I started already...

Wind force 4-5 from west, swell 2,50 - 3,50 m from sw, and the tide still not with me...who wants to paddle that? At least I got warmer than waiting at the beach.

The swell was breaking frequently, and sitting on a 3m high swell with breaking crests on top is wet sometimes...I had to concentrate every second watching what the water was doing, and leant several times fully into the breaking wave not to get knocked over. I couldn't tell I was uncomfortable, actually felt just right challenged, but when I *really* had to roll...who knows.

I shouldn't have been out there, and I shouldn't have cut across. But I did. I was underestimating the weaker tide not helping me too much later in the open beach compared to the stretch from Bluff to Bombay Rock.

My main concern was the "estimated arrival time" on the GPS, which showed the 100 m marks extremely slowly passing by the first two hours, my only motivation measurement to keep on going. When the tide turned the "estimated arrival time" must get down from "midnight" to a decent arrival time at Howells Point I thought...actually I almost prayed "please, tide, help me, this is too slow otherwise to reach the other side..." and turning to Oreti Beach was not the most inviting option either for a safe landing.

Looking at the rough stuff around me I thought a kayak is much more suitable to wriggle around those waves in slow speed than any bigger motorboat with higher speed would be happy to fact there was no boat to be seen anywhere. And I was wondering if there would be a rescue boat or a helicopter coming, just in case...but I'd rather paddled into the night than giving up.

Some sea birds struggled hard in the strong wind to do their circles around me as usual, one almost landed on my head!

Mental strengh and good balance to keep me going without big breaks is something I do have in such situations, and I usually feel pretty strong paddling into headwinds, but due to the windshelter of my open palm mitts I didn't open my hands that frequently on paddling as usual, as it would be just more freezing, and my right wrist and shoulder started to really hurt. Don't listen NOW to your body, you have to keep on going...I found out the water was warmer than the windchill, and sometimes just stucked my hands in for kind of a wrm up and relaxing. Or paddling with the right hand upside down gave some the end when the water became more quiet I padled for a while with my hands only to relax my muscles, that felt good! But generally it was more stiff cramped muscles than a serious upcoming joint or tendonitis problem, I knew that.

When the tide turned the push was much less than expected, but at least the 100 m marks on the GPS turned faster, and the "estimated arrival time" showed a general increasing speed, cut down to arrival at 9 pm at the end. And it was that time when I slowly headed into the quiet waters of Riverton, deciding already way out there still heading generallya to Howells Point I will have to turn *right* to Riverton instead of *left* to Colac Bay. What a good feeling when the braeking swell was slowly getting behind me...I was pretty cold by that time then, some heavy rain and hail showers didn't really add to my comfort feeling. No way of thinking about eating something or peeing on the way...

I got pushed more off by the wind from the south western part of Riverton to the eastern side of the town, guessing I will land then on the first remote beach on the east of the town. But soon when the water was more and more quiet I saw a lovely remote beach showing up close to Howells Point, and I turned left to head finally for that. Some smoking surflines to cross, but they turned out to be only 50 cm high on very shallow ground on low tide. Nothing could shock me anymore or prevent me from landing on that beach...

Happy I made it at 9 am almost in last light, I just had to haul the kayak again up to the hight tide mark on a shallow, long flat beach on low tide...where is my trolley???

A campsite on top of the narrow gravel was flat, but *very* close to the clearly to be seen wet high tide mark, but the other option to climb uphill on the grass wasn't too inviting in fading light, too. Some frequent cars passing by to the Point, whose passengers enjoyed shouting at me when they spotted me down the beach made me deciding for the narrow gravel campsite. I just had to check at 3.45 am if the water was *really* still safe enough away...

I woke up at 4.30 am, by the sound of swapping water against rocks closeby, but obviously I didn't get flooded at night as high tide was already risk, no good campsite :-))

Montag, November 26, 2007

Progress Report 11/26/07 Monday - updated by Freya 28.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:

Oreti beach tues mrng w 4bft noon w 4bft aft w 4bft seas 2.50 mtr frm sw
Oreti beach wed mrng w 3bft non w 4bft aft w 4bft seas 2.40 to 2.20mtr frm sw
Colac bay tues mrng w 4bft noon sw 4bft aft w 4bft seas 3.50mtr frm sw
Colac bay wed mrng w 3bft noon w 4bft aft w 4bft seas 3.30 to 3mtr frm sw

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:

I'll give it a go tomorrow at 6am with the tide around to Bombay Rock, maybe with afternoon tide to Riverton or Colac Bay.

Update by Freya 28.11.07:

I had a walk yesterday afternoon around the Bluff Point yesterday when it was blowing pretty hard, and I noticed the outgoing tide was forming a rough race all up to the Lookout Point, but with a gap between the rough area nad the rocks wide enough to paddle safely.

When I was reading Paul's chapter in his book about that part, he was paddling actually against the tide, as he was crossing Bluff harbour on slack between ebbing and flooding again, and then kept on going...

I didn't see the races developing to the other direction, but from what he was writing he was working them hard "uphill"...I'd rather go with the tide then around to Bombay Rock...and that was the plan for tomorrow, starting at 6am until the tide turns at 10.30am.

In the morning I visited Meri Leask again, and she connected me to a call to John Hawkleff, an experienced fisherman of the Fjordland area, who gave me even more tips about the Fjordland area. We agreed Meri would see me at night when the latest marine forecast came in about whether I would start tomorrow or not.

Another walk today took me up the Bluff hill to the hilltop and down to Lookout Point again, then uphill again on another track. I really enjoyed those lonely walks in native forest again, it reminded me to the long tramping trips with my little boy on the South Island 7 years ago...

Meri cam at night, and she and Ian were happy to get up tomorrow morning early to pick me at 5.30am and to give me that short lift with all my gear to the beach...

I am not sleeping well when I do have to get up that early, especially when a tough paddle is planned, and was listening all night if the wind really eases down a bit as forcasted. Rain was still all night washing against my window, and I was happy to be still in a dry hut.

Sonntag, November 25, 2007

Non-Progress Report 24.11.07 Saturday + 25.11.07 Sunday by Freya

What to tell...I basically was sitting on the computer all Saturday updating the rest of the last paddling days, and put the new sent by Karitek skegbox in my kayak, plus some minor repairs on the boat.
Sunday morning I got a lift to Invercargill again, and food-shopped for the next 3-4 weeks...I will stuff the last corner with eadible things, who knows how long I'm stuck in food drops planned. Maybe I have to fish at some point :-))
Stanley Mulvany was so nice to give me a lift back, after we had a nice look around in the local museum. Thanks, Stanley!

The latest weather report seems like I can push on on Tuesday to Colac Bay (50 km) with some 3-4 headwinds, the tide is good late in the afternoon only...and to Port Craig on Wednesday (50 km, too), maybe only force 3 headwinds...
Thursday maybe a day off again, Friday and Saturday the wind changes to s se, and all days the seas from sw are pretty low - what luck!

So if all goes well as forecasted, I'm hopefully around Puysegur Point on Friday or Saturday. And then it's Fjord hopping with hopefully decent weather and seas!!!
But who can forcast the weather...Karel at least is very close to perfection! Thanks, Karel!

When I look out to Bluff harbour entrance it's creating a pretty lovely tidal race on the right tide, beautiful waves, a fun playspot if you don't want to go anywhere :-))
Besides that it's blowing like hell today, even in the "sheltered" bay here. On the way back from Invercargill we stopped for a look on the other side of the peninsula, and no whitecaps at all, just *white* sea! Good to be in a dry, civilized area...

Freitag, November 23, 2007

Progress Report 11/23/07 Friday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:

Friday: mrng w 4bft noon nw 4 to 5bft aft w 3bft 2.60mtr frm sw

Saturday: mrng nw 4bft noon nw 5bft aft nw 4 to5bft seas 3mtr frm sw

Update by Freya 24.11.07:

Not much going on today...I made myself at home in my little hut, slept long, had a lovely shower, cared about my sandy gear, dried my tent, repaired some little issues, made a lot of phone calls top everybody.

Meri showed up at 11am, ready to drive into Invercargill. I joined her, and updated my blog alredy at least for three days.

At 3.30 pm, reporters from the Southland Times announced themselves, I think this time alerted by JKA...I did my publicity job, the 4th newspaper article on the trip! But who knows what it is good for...

And the end of the day was just relaxing, eating, sleeping early...

New updates available!

So far I updated the 13.-16th, some more updates will follow the next days when I have more time for internet!
I am obviously landbound the next 3-4 days before heading out to Fjordland, not too unwelcome I must admit...although I'd rather be paddling when the weather would be ok!

Thanks guys for all nice comments on my progress! It's good to know lot's of friends are following my progress. Let's pray for some more decent weather!

Thanks to Karel for the weather and some blog updates, and thanks to Greg for updating my blog regularly!

Donnerstag, November 22, 2007

Progress Report 11/22/07 Thursday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Happy Thanksgiving to our American Friends!

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Thursday mrng: nw 4bft noon sw 1 to2bft aft ne 1 to 2bft seas 0.90to 1.50 mtr frm sw

Friday mrng: w 4bft noon nw 4 to 5bft aft w 3bft 2.60mtr frm sw

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
46.36 168.21 Near Bluff. Interesting launch this morning took about half hr :). No new wreck at Waipapa Point but it looks like some days off before Fjordland

Meri Leask waved me into shore how nice! And helped me to get a hut on the campsite for the next bad weather days! time to update my blog...

Update by Freya 24.11.07:

Launching this morning proved to be the toughest so far on my own...the wind and sea was still pretty high, but supposed to be going the afternoon.

I already slept in longer than usual that morning, as the afternoon the wind and the tide for crossing Toetoes Bay were more favourable anyway.

I just felt happy the wind was keeping my tent dry over night, and just as I thought that it started to rain again...I really had to kick myself to get started in rainy, still windy conditions! At least the drysuit was dry, and putting it on inside the tent was convenient before heading out into the ugly, unfriendly morning.

Packing a wet tent in the morning into the tight bag is already no pleasure, but stuffing a wet and *sandy* tent tops it all...I was gald to do that job in my drysuit, able to strip the sand off somehow then after...

I almost needed a shovel to bury my kayak out of the sand, the wind yesterday did a good job to sandblast and cover the whole side.

As I unpacked it yesterday, sand was blowing into the hatches and cockpit, and packing it this morning *with* sand and rain was actually very unpleasant...that's a sea kayaker's life sometimes!

Whilst packing I was looking at the surf alreday, watching a seal trying to get ashore, being washed up and down quite a bit before he decided to land obviously somehwere else...hmmmm, when a seal was not happy about landing here, how could I launch easily then??

The usual dumper was the first to overcome, and some more breakers were waiting lined up behind.
But the worst was the back surge for a lonely kayaker, the wash up the beach was quite high.
So where was the best spot and time to jump in? It took me a while, some cockpits full of water, some getting lost of the boat, some getting washed up and sitting sideways, some rolling of the kayay up the beach whilst trying to position it down enough - and eventually a long rest to recover my power...

I thought the tide is coming up, and might change the angle of the beach for the breakers somehow, so just wait a bit for higher tide, and try again...I *needed* to get off that beach at some point and to to Bluff today!!!

But as it would only get better on the afternoon, tide and winds, I was not really in a hurry.

I tried again at some point, and at least managed to stay afloat whilst getting washed up and down for about three times, turned around somehow, bracing into some dumpers before eventually braeking through the first dumper!

That was the key! The other braekers were no problem, and once I was free, I gave it a big reliefed shout I made it!!! Yes, these open beaches...they change their face easily.

Actually, being out there on your own just with a partner wouldn't make it any easier for the last one...but it will be interesting to watch Justine's video of that kind of launching while she is sitting safely launched out there waiting for Barry to punch through the launch on his own :-)) - or the other way round???
Having a support team on the beach to launch the last one makes it way less of a problem...but actually less exciting and less of a learning process, too!

And then the skeg again...launching rope attached as usual, but by no means I could pull it out...I fumbled around with the paddle on the rope to get a better angle to pull it out, but no chance...after a while i tried again, pulled as hard I ever could and guessed, if the loop breaks, I can't help then...but it came off eventually and my already planned wet exit behind Waipapa Point to release it was luckily not necessary.

Seas were still rough approaching Waipapa Point, but with a good eye for the offshore reef breakers I made it safely through that notoriuos spot. I guess the tourists out there on the dry point hoped for another exciting crash...

I took a bearing from the GPS across Toetoes Bay, as the sky was grey, it was raining, and nothing of Bluff or the offshore islands was to be seen where I wanted to go.
At least the wind was dropping as forecasted, but the waves were pushing me into the bay that much I had to correct my course quite often. Good to have the GPS! And it told me my speed was increasing, too, as the tide turned in my favour, actually that much I would be reaching Bluff two hours before the tide was turning again to get me safely into the harbour!
I took my time, rested quite often, still making 3km/hr at the last hour without doing anything! Seas were fully quiet at the end, a relaxing final approach to Bluff.

The only rock-free little beach in Bluff was right before the huge big white tanks before the wharf, and at almost low tide there was still quite a bit of a stream going out the harbour! I ferryglided across the main stream, before I sneaked up close to the rocks approaching that little beach through the floating kelp and reefs.

I saw a lady waving and shouting at me at the harbour entrance, and guessed this must be Ainsli Lamb already, a contact adress Paul gave me to send a parcel down to Bluff.
But no! It was Meri Leask, "Good as Gold Meri" from Bluff Fishermen Radio! She knew already I was coming from the Heberley's in Tory Channel, and from that chap bringing me water up to my tent at Tautuku Bay!
Out of her window she overlooked the whole harbour, saw me coming in, and although I was too shy to contact her already on the VHF channel 61, she welcomed me already on the beach! Thanks Meri, I felt already in good hands even before heading out to Fjordland, monitored by all fishermen around via your radio!

I told her I was actually expecting Ainsli with the parcel, and after a few phone calls she came down to Bluff with another lady to bring it to me. Thanks, Ainsli!

After checking the forecast for the next days it was clear I would have to stay some days in Bluff, and I was happy Meri helped me to find a little hut on the campsite for the next days.
But before driving out there, I was invited for a cuppa in her famous kitchen radio office, listening to her evening sched calls to all boats around in the area! She does a very important job for the safety of all boaters, especially in the remote Fjordland area. She knows exactly where everybody is for the night, and is the coordination center if a mayday call comes in.
She'll monitor my progress in Fjordland, too, and even if my own little VHF won't reach her in all corners of Fjordland, the VHF contact via a passing fishing boat would be possible to obtain.
My boat was stored at Bruce and Gloria's house right across the road, and I "made camp" in my own little hut then for the next days, shower, heater and laundry included...

Mittwoch, November 21, 2007

Progress Report 11/21/07 Wednesday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Wednesday morning: nw 3to4bft noon nw 3bft aft w 4 to5bft seas 1.10to 0.70mtr frm s to sw

Thursday morning: nw 4bft noon sw 1 to2bft aft ne 1 to 2bft seas 0.90to 1.50 mtr frm sw

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
46.39 168.54 Lake Brunton 4hrs headwind fight then watched plenty of huge fat sealions at Waipapa Point. Hope for windbreak tomorrow for Bluff.

My tent - my castle and sand and sand-fly free zone...almost :)
Important piece of gear: earplugs to keep the roaring surf off my dreams...

4 weeks, 20 paddling days, 8 weather days, 1035 km, 51.75 km daily average, ca.1250 km left, 17 tent nights, 3 Pavlovas! :))
Update by Freya 24.11.07:
The day's forecast were some headwinds, but low seas, and I hoped to make still good enough progress for Bluff. In case I won't nmake it the low swell didn't scare me too much to land at the open Brunton Beach then somewhere, right before the crossing of Toetoes's Bay. next day's forecast showed a wind gap to finish off to Bluu then.
And it came as I didn't hope: the headwinds were fun to paddle against for a while, but after two hours of battling I took already a short break at a lovely sheltered beach right before Black Point. I should have gone at least to that one yesterday! But who knew at that time...
Another two hours of headwind play, and i was looking for a reasonable spot to stop at Brunton Beach.
Where the site of lake Brunton was, the dunes were low enough for a probably good campsite, and the surf wasn't too much at that corner, too. Still enough for a wet brace into the last dumper...
It was 11 am only, and I couldn't tell I was in the mood for stopping already, despite of the slow hard working progress into the headwinds...but for what's it worth, tomorrow seemed to be a wind break, long enought to make it to Bluff.
After tomorrow, the weather was supposed to change for the worse anyway for longer, so I *had* to make the rest tomorrow, if I wouldn't want to be stuck in the bushes for longer time rather than being safe and dry in civilization...and to update blog, food and kit for the next remote leg into Fjordland.
I relaxed laying against my boat for a while, still not willing to put up camp and to take off the drysuit, and fell into a quick nap...I awoke from being sandblasted by the increasing wind...a look on the water showed it was time to make camp.
Wandering along the lakesite showed a good shelter way down there, but I was too lazy to carry all the gear down...I put up tent right behind the first dune shelter on the lakesite, still a bit in the wind, good against sandflies...
A first afternoon walk took me east again, and climbing up a high, steep sanddune I was surprised to see it was occupied already - a fat sea lion already preferred the shelter way up there, too! He didn't notice me, and I took lots of pictures. Little did I know that there were many more to picture down the beach...
After a quick lunch I walked up the beach the other way, towards Waiapap Point. And one fat blubber pile of sea lion after the other was resting in the afternoon sun on the beach, lazy enough to stay where they were, even when they started to open their eyes and noticed me. I think I took good pitures!
At Waipapa Point, the big long reef was easy visible at low tide, and the compulsary bunch of tourist vans, too...just stay wide tomorrow, I thought, and you won't end up like the ship wreck 100 years ago...

Dienstag, November 20, 2007

Progress Report 11/20/07 Tuesday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Freya has rounded the bend and is Heading West!

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Tues mrng nw 3bft noon w 2 to3bft aft sw 2 to3bft seas 2.60mtr frm s
Wed mrng w 4bft noon nw 4bft aft nw 4 to5bft seas 2 to 0.90mtr frm s to sw

Satellite Text Message Received from Freya:
46.39 169.06 Purpoise Bay campsite with shower and laundry, not too bad! Lovely day with dolphins and light wind. Would have loved to kept on going!
Update by Freya 24.11.07:
Again dragging of the kayak down to the low water line...and the trick with the covered cockpit and just walking through the shallow, low surf until you could squeeze your butt into the cockpit without catching a wave was just working fine. But don't even think about the already checked to be loose skeg was coming out on it's own as supposed then...shaking the whole boat violently whilst sitting wasn't getting it out either, so I dared to land besides a sheltered reef rock, jumped out again, puleld the skeg loose and could keep on going west.
It was a lovely sunny day, few winds, and the 33 km to Purpoise Bay, the next sheltered approved landing spot, were just astern already at 2 pm.
I was heavily tempted to keep on going, at least another 20 km just before Waipapa Point...
I assumed landing in the shelter of the first reef there would be ok, but it was still a bit of a good swell going...and open beaches are always "interesting" in those conditions...
Going even further into Toetoes Bay, still open beaches, was not my idea of going straight from point to point, and crossing over to Bluff was too long for that day.
So the only reasonable option again was to pull into that sheltered bay, enjoying the rest of the day, and the campsite was actually not too unwelcome for a hot shower and some laundry.
I got a ride with a couple in a sports car to Waikawa, where there was internet at the museum. Just couldn't ask them NOT to smoke whilest driving...beeeaaahhh!
I had too many e-mails to answer for the short hour of computer time, so updating my blog had to wait until Bluff.
A longer call to Paul about Bluff's approaching conditions finished the day.

Montag, November 19, 2007

Progress Report 11/19/07 Monday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Monday: mrng ne 3bft noon e 3bft aft e 3bft seas mrng 4.70 aft 4.30mtr frm sw

Tuesday: mrng nw 3bft noon w 2 to3bft aft sw 2 to3bft seas 2.60mtr frm s

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:

46.36 169.26 Tautuku Bay 40km I could get used to the relaxing half day paddles dictated by sheltered landing & tide :) actually enough swell for today..HUGE off Long Point!
Update by Freya 24.11.07:
The early morning start and paddle through the Nuggets was not watched by anyone, touristst were still asleep on their warm and dry accomodations...
The wind forecast was nice, but BIG swells should come up for that day...heading out of the sheltered bay before the Nuggets no swell appeared at all. And even going through the gap I spotted the day before was a bit of a thrill regarding Paul's issue there, but it proved to be no problem, just some streamy water and I was scared to death once as a sea lion was barking out loud somewhere unexpectedly... :-))
But behind the Nuggets, going off the sheltered bay, the swell became more and more visible and to be felt, the backchop off White Head was already entertaining, but approaching Long Point topped my HUGE swell experience so far...
It is not really dangerous or likely to capsize in BIG swells only, a good sense of balance and NOT to get seasick is just required - and I was luckily able to feel alright with both.
Taking pics of the swell breaking on the point was not easy, balancewise first, but timing it right to be UP when a huge breaker hits the rocks and not DOWN in the wave trough proved to be tricky...
I was just happy not to feel any seasickness coming up, as I had to deal with that already sometimes in Newfoundland and Iceland...maybe my body told me "no time for that, you are alone out here and cant't feed the fishes right now and get weak..." or so...
Behing Long Point the backchop created some choppy surf for a long time, even some bracing was necessary! I was just happy I took my food and pee braek just *before* the point...
But the water became soon more quiet approaching Tautuku Bay, and although I covered only another half day paddle with 40 km and was thinking to skip that bay and pushing on to Purpoise Bay I must admit I had enough swell for that day...
Tautuku Bay at low tide was a long pull up of the boat again, my hull becomes thinner and thinner from the constant sand abrasion :-)) - and the extra excersise is not too much appreciated.
I put up my tent opposite to the wee houses, as I didn't feel too much like camping between holiday huts and meeting people that day.
Anyway, the chap driving up to my dune camp to just bring me some fresh water was well appreciated! It proved to be a fisherman who knew already about my trip from other fishermen...
I opened my tent not to be unpolite whilst the brief conversation, but the sandflies saw that as an invitation to get inside, too...but they are slow enough to get caught! :-)
Just all those dead bodies inside the tent then...

Sonntag, November 18, 2007

Progess Report 11/18/07 Sunday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Sunday: mrng nw 4bft noon sw 4 to 5bft aft sw 4bft seas mrng 1.4 aft 2.6mtr from s

Monday: mrng ne 3bft noon e 3bft aft e 3bft seas mrng 4.70 aft 4.30mtr frm sw

Satellite Text Messages received from Freya:
46.26 169.47 Nugget Point 35km against stream and wind next legs are dictated by possible landings I'll go watch the seals now from above
Update by Freya 24.11.07:
The launch from Crystalls Beach was ok, even with some dumpers...yes, Greg, I soon learnt how to deal with the dumpers :-)) - either stay out like at Fisherman's Point/ Birdling's Flat or get wet :-))
That day to Nugget Point was a half day's paddle again, 35 km only, but for that stretch of coastline it proved to be more wise to get in the approved safe landing spots rather than seeking new, probably less sheltered ones, which might not even exist...
I paddled into the last sandy beach before Nuggets Point, and found the only place to put up a tent, right in front of the penguin sign...but still not too close to the road. And the penguins were not expected to come in at that time of the year on that beach.

After getting settled with the tent and gear I walked up to the Nuggets Point, where 7 years ago I was driving up in a van with my 4-year old boy...this time the masses of tourist vans were just annoying, and I preferred to walk rather that to hitch a ride up and the points of views change! Being in my own van next time again, I'll look out for lonely travellers without car... :-))
The view from the Nuggets was amazing as last time, and with my binoculars I could watch the marine mammal's life down there pretty close.
I remembered Paul's write up about his capsize going through the Nuggets 30 years ago, and tried to find the spot where it has happened.
The swell was pretty low that day, so in the middle of the Nuggets to the left of the rock with the arch there seemed to be a gap big enough to pass safely next day, if conditions would stay the same...a motorboat took the same pass through.
It started to rain a bit, and all (German...) tourists were hurrying back to their only concern was I stupidly left my fleece underwear outside my tent to dry, so I hurried walking downhill back, too :-)) - and drying the underwear in a tent is only be done by *wearing* it for a while, not really a pleasure. But if you want dry underwear next day...

Samstag, November 17, 2007

Progress Report 11/17/07 Saturday - updated by Freya 24.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Saturday: mrng nw 3bft noon e 2 to 3bft aft e 3bft seas 2.20 to 1.90mtr frm

Sunday: mrng nw 4bft noon sw 4 to 5bft aft sw 4bft seas mrng 1.40 aft 2.60mtr frm s

Satellite Text Message Received from Freya:

46.12 170.03 Toko Mouth 55km decided to go in rather on a clean but surfy beach than on unknown terrain further downwind enjoy early camp on my own

Update by Freya 24.11.07:

I did launch that morning on Smailles beach in the broken surf behind Bird Island, as carrying the boat to the left corner of the beach where I came in was a bit of distance...oh, I skipped about 300 m of paddling!!! Unforgivable...

Thanks Rob and Stella to get up with me that early I could be on the water at 7am, and Mark couldn't help but joining the early morning launch, too...I think it's an honor people enjoy getting uop that early just to see me off!

My goal for the day was an ambitious 85 km down to the Nuggets, as a following wind from lunchtime on was predicted, but the headwind fiirst and the quite rough stuff later made it impossible to reach the Nuggets before darkness. Just one hr was missing...that leg had to be spilt in two days then!

So I had to decide where to go in, the proved safe landing at the Taeiri river mouth was already astern. The Toko River mouth appealed on the map, and the whole stretch of Crystalls Beach before it was clean, just a bit steep and surfy and dumpy...

The river mouth itself had some reefs, and as far as I could see further south the next beach looked decorated with reefs, too (actually it was not, but I didn't know...) the water bacame more and more rough, and I decided to go in NOW, just before the river mouth wee village.

A bit of a dumping surf at the end to brace in, but I could pass the outer breaking line of surf upright. I was quite happy to be in safely, but a sandy, but free of reefs, even steep beach with some surf doesn't scare me that much as those ugly cobblestone stuff between Christchurch and Oamaru.

I had to climb a bit up the dunes to find a lovely spot for the night, just the sandflies enjoyed first time to bother me quite a bit. I learnt NOT to go out of the tent with bare legs or feet, and stripping the naked butt for a pee is not much of a pleasure :-)) - so I'd rather used my device I use sitting in my kayak for that pupose...and go where the most wind is blowing! :-))

I hauled the kayak up the dunes, as the high tide mark came pretty close to the high edge. For a good night's sleep without worries I thought it's well worth the effort!

Freitag, November 16, 2007

Progress Report 16/11/07 Friday - updated by Freya 23.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Friday: mrng nw2bft noon s 2bft aft e 1bft seas 2.80mtr frm e to se

Saturday: mrng nw 3bft noon e 2 to 3bft aft e 3bft seas 2.20 to 1.90mtr frm s

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
Smailles Beach 50km big swell east of Otago Peninsula landing on surfbeach sneaking in close to rocks plenty dolphins!!!
Updated by Freya 23.11.07:
Paul said goodbye that morning, as I would be expected in Dunedin by Rob Tipa, another paddler of the KASK network. Thanks Paul, for three interesting and helpful days!
Paul proved to be my main New Zealand contact, as he proved to be really helpful with contacts, phone support, publicity, local advices and a close eye on the trip over all. I hope to host him a bit in Europe next year!
Cutting across to the Otago Peninsula harbour entrance I had a big school of dolphins playing with me for more than 15 min! All close to the kayak, almost jumping over the bow! But don't even guess of beeing fast enough for good pictures...maybe there are some when I take my tim eto download them. Justine, your job for the video camera! I told the dolphins to be back for you then...
I'd rather kept on paddling to stay interesting for the playful mammals, expecting they appreciate more a moving paddle to play with than a just floating boat', just enjoying the moment...
Some huge Albatros from the Dunedin colony enjoyed their circles around the kayak, almost touching the waterline with their wings. I wonder why they (and other birds, too...) think a kayak is a great spot to fly around in circles for minutes...
Off th east side of the Otago Peninsua the swell felt big, reflecting from the steep cliffs. But no worries...I was more worried about the landing on the open surf at Smailles Beach south of the island, only broken a bit by Bird Island. Just next to St. Kilda beach, NZ most popular surf beach...
Rob Tipa and Mark Robertson were expecting me there, and Mark checked that morning already how the surf was looking like on that beach. He said "with your experience...there are gaps to land safely..." (whose surf experience???), so I trusted his judgement in my skills.
Coming around the corner to the beach, the usual procedure of PFD, hood and helmet on, legs locked in, and with several looks back I managed to surf in without being knocked over, sneaking in close to the rocks of the side of the beach.
I saw Rob and mark running from the middle of the beach towards me, as they obviously saw another safe route of unbroken waves just behind Bird's Island and expected me there.
The only issue about my landing spot was the longer distance of carrying the kayak and luggage to the car, maybe we should have had VHF contact before landing! My cell was ringing sometimes, but no call was possible.
Anyway, it took only two minutes and the next reporter from the Dunedin paper were on the beach for pictures and interview. Paul's and Rob's job again...but Ididn't mind. At least it was not after 22hrs of paddling and 1 hrs of sleep when the reporter showed up in Iceland...
Rob's and Mark's hospitality was perfect, they briefly dropped me at a supermarket to shop for teh next leg, and Rob's wife Stella cooked a delicious venison dinner.
I was just too tired to update anything on my blog on his computer...and actually I thought having that short time together with lovely hosts it's just unpolite to sit on the computer all night.
Thanks for hosting me that night!
Mark enjoyed to put me in his self-built SOF for a picture, I'll post one soon! Nice boat! I like the rubber-like hull material, black for sure...

Donnerstag, November 15, 2007

Progress Report 11/15/07 Thursday - updated by Freay 23.11.07

Gone kayak'n.... I'm away for a few days kayak camping at Cumberland Island, Georgia. Karel will update Freya's blog in my absence. -- Greg Stamer.

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Thu mrng w 2bft noon ne 3 to4bft aft ne 3bft seas 2.10mtr frm s to se
Fri mrng nw2bft noon s 2bft aft e 1bft seas 2.80mtr frm e to se

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
45.36 170.41 Waikouaiti 85km 13hrs grey drizzly chilly day but good paddle

Update by Freya 23.11.07:
Weather looked inviting this morning, calm, but grey and drizzly. Paul helped me launching again, sliding downhill in a seal launch that extreme steep gravel into moderate dumpers is actually not that tough.
Paul enjoyed some more bookhunts during the day, heading south towards Moeraki.
We agreed he will look for me first at the Oamaru harbour, but I knew already I won't stop there if paddling was good...and it was good and easy, after a day's rest anyway.
I gave him the first call on the cellphone I won't come in for lunch, ok, next meeting point would be Moeraki beach, 50km overall down south.
The weather bacame not really attractive for a land mammal, with rain and dark sky, but for me as a mutated marine mammal I was quite happy out there, still following winds and moderate seas.
Paul obviously felt more like a land mammal and booked already another hut at Moeraki at 3pm, obviously convinced I would be stopping there.
I cut across the bays as usual, just feeling sorry I would miss another look on the famous Moeraki boulders on the beach in that way...happy with good progress that day!
On the second call to Paul it sounded already he didn't feel too happy with me wanting to push on to Shag Point rather than stopping at Moeraki, but he thought we could have easily been driven back to Moeraki from there...
On my third call at at 5.30pm I asked him for the last delay on the night's meeting, as paddling with 7-8 km/h felt just too good...Cornish Head 3hrs south sounded ok for him then.
Passing Shag Point through the reefs proved again the saying "If in doubt - stay out", as I didn't follow and caught a big wave washed sideways towards the next rocks...pooohhhh! But bracing successfully, just learnt something again...
I eventually paddled around the corner of Cornish head at 8.30pm, already seeing Paul's car with the orange Nordkapp on the roof on the beach.
I was thinking about giving him a fourth call just to tease him, to ask if he would agree if I would like to push on to Dunedin that night..."Then you would have camped on your own, girl!" was the understandable he lost already 40 dollars on that early booked hut we didn't use then...sorry about that! But who was always pushing on, too, when conditions were good 30 year ago??
85 km for that day was actually enough, as night came in soon, no Icelandic 24hrs of daylight!

Another delicious couscous meal prepared on the back of his car, and a quiet remote dune tent site to sleep.

Mittwoch, November 14, 2007

Progress Report 11/14/07 Wednesday - update dy Freay 23.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Thu mrng w 2bft noon ne 3 to4bft aft ne 3bft seas 2.10mtr frm s to se
Fri mrng sw 4bft non sw 3bft aft sw 2 to3bft seas 2.80mtr frm e to se

Satellite Text Message Received from Freya:
No paddle today :( non- inviting headwinds. Spent all day in Oamaru looking around. Sounds ok tomorrow to keep on going south.

Update by Freya 23.11.07:
Forecast said stronger winds, but it's always worth a look out to the sea...I jumped in my drysuit, ready to push on for at least a while, but what we saw out there was not really inviting...back to plan B, a day off paddling!
Paul and I were driving out to Oamaru then, as he was interested to look into various antique bookshops on the hunt for old books he was interested in.
Oamaru enjoys to be a "Victorian"town, with a historic city with lots of antique shops, theatres and some more tourist traps. But nice to look around for a while, too. In a shop he got to talk with a lady about what we were doing, and she couldn't help but calling the local paper for a story...
A walk out around the Oamaru headland where a "pinguin viewing" amphitheathere was put up for tourists watching the little bue pinguins coming In at night completed the day off.
The same convenient hut for the night - I think I'm getting spoilt!

Dienstag, November 13, 2007

Progress Report 11/13/07 Tuesday - update by Freya 14.11.07 and 23.11.07

Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Tuesday mrng nw 3bft noon w 3bft aft s3bft seas 0.60 to 1.40mtr from se
Wed mrng sw 4bft noon sw 4 to 5bft aft sw 4bft seas 1.60mtr from se

Satellite Text Message Received from Freya:
44.48 171.10 Morven. Got stranded in the bush again after 18km s wind came with 5 to 6 at 9.32h :( I walked out to the road to meet Paul :)

I paddled another 18km south up to the Waitaki River mouth. I had a nice dinner with Paul.

Update by Freya 14.11.07:
I got up early again, Paul's latest marine forcast and Karel's update by the morning was for southerlies coming in at noon already, and probably stronger than I would like it....

Ok, getting up early and going as far as possible I guessed, winds and seas looked still easy that morning.

Launching was easy, too, but my skeg rope deploying system failed the first time, as the little loop on the skeg broke and the skeg stayed stuck...

Seas were calm, and I'd rather climbed out on the stern again as being successful once (and failed another time...) than landing on that beach again! But I couldn't reach it to pull it out, it was stuck deep inside the skeg box...I slid forward again to reach my knife out of a cockpit bag, tried again to fumble around without slicing into my drysuit, but I couldn't find the tiny cobble which caused the problem...

Ok, landig again... somehow I got the boat up enough to roll it on it's side, getting the repair bag out for an new loop, scratched the cobble out with my knife and to launch again with success this time.

7.15 am for the second start of the morning, still early enough for Omaru harbour, I thought...
9.32 am, and from one minute to the next it was there, the front with southerly winds, which was already announcing himself an hour ago with some dark clouds to the south. I kept on pushing a bit, but my GPS told me I was down to 2-3 km/h, pointless for the effort I put in, and I won't make the 50 km to Omaru anyway.

So just land again after about 18 km, in the middle of nowhere again...

I just hoped I picked a good spot for road access to meet Paul somehwere around 2 pm, as I couldn't see any hinterland behind the steep beach. Landing was rough, but ok, and maybe after 2 hrs of paddling only I was still strong enough to pull the boat up the steep beach, as it worked better than the previous night.

For sure I had to unload it fully again, as there were two more steep steps waiting to be pulled up until I eventually felt safe and dry enough high on top of the gravel bar.

I would have put up tent right there again if I would just be by myself for that day, but Paul was announced to call me from 2 pm on, to make sure we'll meet somewhere. He hasn't got a VHF or GPS, just a (luckily working there) cell phone...hey, modern expedition times are up! :-)))

I walked out to the main road, and with the help of a farmworker's lift I was sitting besides the A1 at about 11 am, still quite early for a rendevouz. Ok, time to work on my fingernails a bit and to type some messages on the Satphone ;-))
Rain came up, and I preferred rather walking up the road towards Timaru for a meeting than to get cold.

At least I was still in my Kokatat drysuit and had my Kokatat Gore-Tex overcag on, so well protected! But it must have been a funny figure walking along the noisy main road without asking anyone for a lift...just for fun...
Eventually it was 2pm and Paul's car turned up, most appreciated as it became a bit chilly on the the long run.


Update by Freya 23.11.07

We managed to find the little dirt road where I came off the beach, and had a nice lunch at Paul's car, with a convenient two flame camp stove in use. Car camping has advantages...
The local farmer drove by on his 4-wheeler and probably was wondering what we were doing out there, almost on his meadow...
After two hrs the wind seemed to be down enough I could start at 4.30 pm for another two or three hrs paddle. We agreed to meet again at the Waitaki River mouth.
Launching went well, a nice push is always appreciated!

Approaching the big river mouth, the water bacame pretty racy at times, and I kep a good eye out for Paul. But only three fishermen catching whitebait were busy out there, no orange jacket to be seen indicating the end of the day!

Well, cell phone contact was luckily available, and Paul told me he was waiting about 1 mile down the coast where he found good road access. He would have a blue tarp put up and would be good visible.

Wind freshened up again, and the last 1/2 hour was a good workout to reach teh blue tarp and orange jacket spot somewhere out there on the long gravel bar...good feeling whith a support crew! At least for some luxury days...actually I guessed Paul wanted to get on the water with me at some point as he brough kayak and all kit, but understandable he wasn't too much attracted to paddle this stretch of coastline...

He obviously enjoyed acting rather as a support crew he was lucky to have himself on most of his trips. Besides some days with Bevan Walker he admitted he was never on this side of the trip, so very much appreciated he was there!

For landing in strong wind and sidewaves up the steep gravel beach I carefully watched his signs from which side to approach and I understood his signs he wanted me in diagonal with the waves...and I readily got my legs out of the boat to jump out as soon as possible paddling carefully in after a big wave like I was successfull on my own the last days.

But on catching someone else his idea was I should have paddled up the beach full speed on the back of a big breaker, to get up as high as possible, obviously right, but somehow I was too scared to time it wrong and rather to dig my nose into the steep gavel and pitchpole as I did in Iceland after jumping out on the waterside of the kayak a big dumper washed the boat onto Paul, knocked him over and the heavy barge was sitting right on his didn't look too good, but luckily nothing was broken, he just wasn't too happy about water in his gum boots...well, things happen on big trips like that with unexperienced kayakers...(me!)

But I did my job on drying his only pair of socks later with a hair dryer in the little campside hut he was so nice to book...a hot shower, laundry and dry place to stay is always appreciated after some days in the bushes! And it was pouring rain all night long...

We checked what each of us brought for food and put together a delicious meal, again convenently prepared in a big pan on a two flame stove...

Montag, November 12, 2007

Progress Report 11/12/07 Monday - updated by Freya 14.11.07

Fortunately Freya had a less eventful day than yesterday!

A good reference for tracking the date/time in NZ, to better follow Freya's trip, is .
Weather Update from Karel Vissel:
mon mrng nw 4bft noon nw 3bft aft nw 3bft seas 0.60mtr frm se
Tues mrng nw 3bft noon w 3bft aft s3bft seas 0.60 to 1.40mtr frm se

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
Nov 12, 2007 10:26 AM
44.39 171.09 12,5h 85km quiet long day
Update by Freya 14.11.07:
I got up at 6 am, raedy to launch at 7.30 am...but I had to knock up the cliffs on Sandy's van door to say good bye! Early morning bird wants to fly a long way...
Anyway, they came down both within two minutes, and Sandy's wife took some video footage again.
An easy launch on the quiet morning, and I said to myself you are not going to lad until it's getting dark today! I will be a landing somewhere in the nowhere land's beach, nothing to hide or to go in after about 80 km I planned to go that day.
I expected that to be the last landing and launching on the steep gravel stuff, as I hoped to make it to Omaru harbour the next day then, but oh way...
Paddling past Timaru, there was a disgusting freezing works outlet, pouring like a waterfall a bloody greasy animal's rest brew out of a huge hose sticking on poles wide out into the sea...I never smelled such a disgusting dead body's smell, for a whole 1/2 hr south, and the surface was covered with floating grease...that kind of pollution in these days!!! But who cares about those occasional 6 paddlers who go along that beach within the last 30 years...I just felt I need to wash paddle and boat after going through, and don't touch the water, no drips on paddling through!...
It turned 8pm, and 80 km were done, so I guessed the last almost 1 hr of daylight will be nice to put up camp! The swell was down, and it seemed like an easy landing.
I sticked my feet out of the cockpit, sat there for a while until I paddled in on the back of a wave.
Jumping out was fast, safe and easy then, but the beach turned out to be a bloody bastard of being steep!!! Mor than 45 degrees, loose gravel only, and the first step about 2,50 m high above water level! No chance to get the loaded kayak up there on my own! Additionally for sure the cockpit filled with water on the next wave, and I had to figure something to get my boat out of the rolling waves up on terra firma again.
Rolling the boat on it's side to get the water out was working, but it slid down again a bit, including myself...bugger...another effort, and the whole boat was sliding out of my hands! I managed to grab it again, and the same game, pulling as hard as possible, rolling it on the side to get the cockpit empty, but still no chance to pull the heavy guy up...
On a short lull I found a use for the towbelt the first time I was paddling solo (good I wore it!), I clipped the boat to the belt and managed in a short lull to keep the boat where it was and to climb at least on the next gravel step. Another hard pull got it up a bit more, at least out of the reach of the most dumpers. But still it was pointing bow to the sky, and stern to the hell...I had to unload some stuff! I could reach the front hatch from my step on top, and just hoped it wont slide again once I unloded the front hatch and possibly it will be filled with water, too...
One bag flew up the beach, the next, and some more, until the whole front hatch was empty and all gear spread out evenly on top of the gravel step. Another pull, it came up a bit higher and stayed where it got pulled...
Now I could reach into the, two, three fresh water bags flew uphill, too, not caring if they would burst on the crash landing. My precious North Water under deck bag, cockpit bags and the thermos went the same way, and that was it I could reach from the top step.
But it was light enough now for a final pull uphill! Sliding it over the somehow soft, but still sharp cobblestone beach edge made an ugly crackling sound on the hull, but I couldn't was safe! And I was done for the night, 80 km of paddling and such a lovely additional workout! At least the night was dry and although the sun was gone I just stripped fully in the middle of nowhere, enjoying to spread out all gear on clean cobbles to dry I didn't bother to use tent pegs on my free standing Hilleberg Allak tent, just jumped in and started my nigh't camp routine.
I was in cell phone range again, and could give JKA and Paul a call about the situation. John told me the first time about my scary launch the previous day, and that he posted some pics to Greg to spice up my blog a bit...thanks, guys, for all the supporting comments!
Paul envisioned to come out to me from the West Coast for some 7 days and to maybe do a bit of paddling together! Most appreciated for some company and learning opportunities!
I slept well that night, felt safe in the midlle of nowhere and high above the haunting dumpers, put my earplugs in and got a good deserved rest.

Sonntag, November 11, 2007

Progress Report 11/11/07 Sunday - update by Freya 14.11.07

Update: I received an additional image from John Kirk-Anderson of Freya's launch, which I have included - Greg.

Weather Update from Karel Vissel:
mon mrng nw 4bft noon nw 3bft aft nw 3bft seas 0.60mtr frm se
Tues mrng nw 3bft noon w 3bft aft s3bft seas 0.60 to 1.40mtr frm se

Message from Martin:
I helped Freya launch today from Taumutu about 30 km south west of Banks Peninsula into 3m high dumpers, she launched with total commitment into extremely unforgiving waves in what would rate as the gutsiest piece of paddling I have seen that left us shaking and the onlookers cheering.

Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
Nov 11, 2007 10:23 AM
44.06 171.41 Long Beach 62km late start with push through big surf good paddle and landing Sandy Ferguson is here I'll go past Timaru tomorrow.

Will try to pass the 140km to Oamaru harbour in 2 days...

Update by Freya Wednesday 14.11.07:

The weather for Sunday showed easy winds, but most important the se swell was supposed to go down the day, starting about 1,80 m to about 1,20 m at night.

John and Mary got up early with me at 5 am, meeting Martin and Fiona at a junction on the way up to Fisherman's Point at 6.30 am. I appreciate all those people getting up that early to see me being off (and to help me launching, actually...)!

Arriving at the beach, everybody guessed hmmmmm, is that the water you want to get through this morning? Still crushing dumpers, but there *were* occasionally lulls in between...every 15 min or so...if you do it wrong and get washed back into the surge you and your boat won't be having much of the original shape...

We were all watching, discussing, watching and thinking if it will be worth a try and the risk, actually. i was sure i won't have tried on my own at all. The water behing the "barrier" looked ok and easy, if there won't be that launch...and actually a landing, too, at the end of the day!

I decided to get at least the gear and kayak down and to pack. Something to keep me busy while everybody else was still watching and thinking and discussing...

We got paul on the phone, and listened what he was thinking about it, too. But at the end it was really up to *me* to say "yes, I'll do it"... everybody said I would be welcome to stay another night, Monday was supposed to be really down with the swell.

John said eventually he would do it (but he didn't... :-)) )...and was dressed already in shorts, PFD, helmet and tow belt...and he had to meet a student at 10am...and Paul organized Sandy Ferguson to meet me at the end of the day to give me a catch if NOW or not that day at all and maybe tomorrow if I'd stay on the beach on my own without help...

There was a good chance with a good push to do it. But if things went wrong and you get braoched sideways and rolled up the beach again...only one try to *not* get it wrong.

I felt like before an exciting skydive in former times, fully aware of the risk, but quiet and fully concentrated, and relying on the good job of the "launchers"...and then the GO!

John advised me to give it a good scream, but I guessed a mouth full of water was the least I would need by then :-)) So just paddle from zero to full speed, until you feel clear...

One wave crashed above me (see that picture...), I ducked down and had to brace a bit. But I kept straight! The next one came, and according to John it was one of the biggest on coming through all morning...I couldn't size the amount of water, just ducked down again and kept on going after the shower was over...but I knew that I made it after that! I didn't realize (actually couldn't hear...) the shouting and screaming crowd on the beach, just lifted my thumb up to thank them and kept on going a slight bit more out. I turned around in safe waters, waved them good bye, and was just keeping me busy getting my skeg launched with my rope trick (worked again!), taking helmet and pfd off and to get into a smooth going mood again. But it took me about an hour to get the shaky feeling out of my legs...

The day was an easy paddle then, just NO landing in between...but eating, drinking, peeing was no problem.

Sandy (Alex) Ferguson was waiting at the Asburton River mouth, 50 km further south , equipped with a VHF radio for contact. I arrived at about 5.30 pm, guessed, the day is so nice, despite the late launch I made good progress with 7-8km/hr, and I need to keep on padling for at least two more hours! But I decided to land and to talk to Sandy about his plans in person rather than just letting him know over the VHF: "Sandy, it's nice you made it out here to catch and meet me, but I just don't want to land yet..." :-)

Talking to Sandy on channel 16 only didn't seem to bother anyone here...he didn't see any need to move over to another channel to keep on talking.

My landing through moderate rough stuff was probably not really out of his kayaking book Sandy wrote, but this was the German beginner's way :-)) - rolling up the beach again with a most elegant gravel handroll...his wife caught everything on video! No publishing without editing by the actor, please... :-))

We greeted, talked about the plans and I found out they came with a van raedy to stay the night! Means another helpful hand in the morning...thanks Sandy and wife, to spend the time for me! But I dared to ask if they wouldn't mind if I kept on going for another two hrs or so...the meeting point was Long Beach then.

The beach in general changed from the gravel only Kaitorere Spit up to Fisherman's Point beach down to the Ashburton River mouth, having some steep gravel in front of cliffs now. It was probably the going down swell in general, or the beach was creating just a bit less of a dumper, but during the day the landing was not that much scary any more for me. Or maybe I was just able to calm down, knowing that there was someoneone waiting for you raedy for catching...

It turned out that the road acces on the map wasn't existing, and Sandy spotted me from a cliff top already further down south!! Means I had to turn about 500 m back to meet them...but oh well, for some good company and talk at night and a helpful hand it was well worth going back!

The second landing of the day was easy going, and probably the dumpers were even less, as forecasted. The only problem was Sandy's van and wife were sitting high on top of some cliffs already on a private farmer's meadow, the best acces he could find, and I was down there at the cobblestone beach with kayay and big use to carry the gear up the cliffs. Sandy made it easier accessible with a rope, not to just slide downhill again...

I put up tent and came up to the van the for a short night's talk, it was good to meet them! But back to my tent I was just discussing the next day looking at the maps with Sandy, and cooking was too late then...and avocado and some soup from the hot water in my thermos did the job. keeps me slim anyway...

Forcast for Monday showed a calm and easy day, Tuesday was supposed to get some southerlies in again!

I hoped I could make it to Oamaru harbour by the end of Tuesday, not to worry about any big landing on steep beaches any more...but (to be continued next day)

Samstag, November 10, 2007

Progress Report 11/10/07 Saturday - updated by Freya 09.11.07

That last day off I took the chance to teach some rolls in a pool - Martin, Fiona, Jeff and David were quite keen on getting wet.

They brought their own kayaks, and I tried to fit myself into each of them.

They felt quite different to what I was used to. I enjoy having quite a low backdeck and a good kneehold in my kayak, things which I feel are quite essential for an easy layback roll. But don't blame your kayak for bad performance... :-)) - I just can't tell I could show off as I would have liked to...I even fell out once :-))
Anyway, Martin started in his Prijon Barracuda, and after getting rid of the terms like rolling with "speed, force, power and strengh", and "don't look, feel what you are doing", he got more and more relaxed and started to sidescull and to roll with feeling for the water and paddle, and with good looked pretty smooth then!
David struggeled a bit with the kneehold in his kayak, and plans to give it a better outfit next time. But I think he got on what it should be like, even with the bad outfit in his kayak and more with watching the others.

Jeff seemed to have the best layback position in his boat, he was quite flexible and performed as well as Martin after a while.
Fiona never ever tried to roll, but squeezed herself bravely in Jeff's boat, and after a bit of hypervetilating she started to relax under water, and the guys could see what female intuition looks like on getting started...she learnt in a different, female way, felt, what was right or wrong and was successfull with smooth rolls without assistance at the end! Good job, girl!

Progress Report 11/09/07 Friday - updated by Freya 09.11.07

I was able to finish my today's blog update in the Paddler's Zone kayak shop in Christchurch, where I briefly showed up to check the local NZ kayak equipment.
Dana, being an attentive shop assistant, looked at me, then looked at her computer where she was just busy studying my rubbish I was posting this morning on my blog (this is "work" in a kayak shop!), and said:"You look so familiar, are you not Freya? You are still in Christchurch? Good to see you here!" ...and offered me to finish my posting on the shop computer. Thanks, Dana!


The whole Friday spent in Christchurch seemed again like a lost day for getting progress, it was lovely sunny and not too many winds.
Especially the town and the protected Lyttleton Harbour area was just quiet.
To ease my mind, I took the car John borrowed me for the day (Thanks, John!) after stopping by at the kayak shop and went out to Birdlings Flat again, to see how the forecasted SE 3,20 m+ swell looks like...

Good I did that!

What I got to see out there was earthshaking, literally. Dumpers double the size than yesterday would have crashed a normal house without any problem to the size of the cobblestones on the beach. Not to talk about a tiny person in a fragile kayak. You got to shiver and feel happy dry and safe high above that impact.

Impressive. Very impressive. I have never seen some force of nature like that. It looked like a momentum pic of the Nigara Falls sometimes. Spray all around you and on your camera lense. You are standig there and feel soooo small. You try to get closer for better pics sideways, then you got to run. Run away from the uphill running water, which wants to catch you and suck you back to it's deep bottom. 60, 70 m uphill. You feel the beach vibrating on the crushing water, which has only one wave to break on that steep cobblestone beach.

I took pics and videos again, will see next what came out in the low sitting sunlight. I just hope Justine gets a day like that when she'll be around, and is able to catch that with her professional camera much better than I am with my little Canon.

The swell is on the way down tomorrow, and for Sunday there is a forecasted 1,90 m in the morning, down to 1,40 m. I might give it another go then. The whole week should be (hopefully) around 1 m. Probably time enough to make it to Dunedin.